Author(s): Patrick Chabal
In this radical new book, Patrick Chabal reveals how the future of the West is now inextricably linked to that of the 'non-West'. The environmental issues the world faces as well as the rise of the economic power of China and other Asian countries make it impossible for the West to consider 'what comes next' in the same ways as before. This is an issue which runs far deeper than present debates on the 'decline of the West' might suggest. The book argues that the postcolonial challenge to the West's outlook from regions such as Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East as well as the influence of citizens of non-Western origins now living in the West have combined to expose the limits of 'Western rationality' - the theories and concepts we currently use to understand and act upon the world. Asking such provocative questions as 'is it a good idea to build mosques in Europe?' and 'is Beckham the new black icon?', Chabal explores the growing failure of Western social thought plausibly to explain many of its key domestic social and economic issues, as well as to address crucial contemporary tests of international politics.
Ultimately, what the West needs is not more and better theory but an entirely new way of thinking to replace its current deep-seated conceit.
Patrick Chabal is currently professor in the department of history at King's College London. He was educated at Harvard, Columbia and Cambridge, where he was a research fellow. He has been a visiting professor in Italy, France, Switzerland, India, Portugal, the USA, Venezuela and South Africa. He is engaged in a long-term project combining the study of culture in comparative politics with a focus on Africa and an enquiry into the theory of the human and social sciences. His books include Africa: The Politics of Suffering and Smiling (2009), Angola: The Weight of History (2008), Culture Troubles: Politics and the Interpretation of Meaning (2006), A History of Postcolonial Lusophone Africa (2002), Africa Works: Disorder as Political Instrument (1999), Power in Africa (1992 and 1994) and Amilcar Cabral (1983 and 2002), a number of which have been translated into other European languages.
Preface Introduction - West and non-West - Western rationality and postcolonialism - Rationality, theory and thinking 1 The problem - At home - Abroad 2. Identities - Who are we? - Who are the 'others' ? - Why is the West more 'advanced'? - Why is the non-West a 'threat'? 3. Ideas - Individual - Society - Freedom - Faith - Market - Change 4. Interpretations - To think is to theorise - To theorise is to explain - To explain is to act - To act is to think (again) Epilogue: Three questions - Secularism - Human rights - Sovereignty Bibliography